It’s strange to think that in April 1959, Fidel Castro, after seizing power in Cuba, was greeted warmly into the US by the American press. Despite the President’s weariness, he was invited by the American Society of Newspaper Editors to spend a couple of days getting to know the country that was only a couple of miles away from Cuba. They fell in love with his tales of his fighting and the striking figure he created with his battledress and bushy beard. However, neither President Eisenhower or Vice President Nixon were enamored. Eisenhower spent most of his days in the golf course avoiding Castro, while Nixon was able to have a conversation with him that left neither of them changing their opinions about the other.
And then a few months after that, Eisenhower placed an economic embargo on Cuba in October 1960 and then the following year, diplomatic relationships fell. And the hostility lasted for almost half a century.
When the embargo was first emplace, the reasons for them were understandable. Cuba had sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War and denounced America as “Yankee Imperialists”. Then the Bay of Pigs happened, then the Cuban missile crisis, and then the Soviet Union fell.
There were less direct fightings between Cuba and the US, but the embargo continued. Of course, there were attempts to ease the relationship under the Carter Administration and the Clinton Administration, but President George W. Bush deteriorated any advances, echoing many conservative views, stating that “We’re not waiting for the day of Cuban freedom; we are working for the day of freedom in Cuba.”
Then President Obama came along and Raul Castro assumed the presidential duties from Fidel and suddenly the idea of renewing a tentative relationship began anew. However, now with President Trump in office, there is a possibility that he might takes his cues from President Bush and take a hard stance on Cuba.
There is no doubt in my mind that Cuba is a dictatorship. Ask any Cuban in Miami and they will regal you with stories of the horrors of Fidel and his supporters. But I don’t think the ties that were being built by President Obama should be severed.
When Bush had deteriorated the relationship with Cuba, he faced a lot of criticisms internationally, specifically Latin America that warned the government that their stance on isolating Cuba would prove counterproductive. And I would listen to a group of countries that are use to the US government’s interference into their affairs to protect the “American” way.
I think that if we want democracy to prosper in a country like Cuba, we need to reach out like Obama did. Raul Castro doesn’t share the same anti-american sentiments that his brother did. If we hold on to that glimmer of hope, there’s potential for progress. The embargo that had been placed all those years ago had succeeded in keeping Cuba poor and isolated and also served to prove Fidel right, even though he was also at fault for the economic hardships Cuba faces. It had worked during the Cold War, but what is our excuse now? When Cuba isn’t even the greatest threat that US is facing now?